EXPANDING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Creativity connects us to depths unawares and when that happens we expand from the inside out…
Sometimes the internal will drive the external and sometimes the external will drive the internal.
Sometimes it’s symbiotic.
When I’m having trouble getting it together and being who I want to be or doing what I want to do, I can either just be, or choose to move forward in one of two ways (or both!):
The Nike saying, “just do it,” comes to mind. Up until my forties, I didn’t have the skill to “just do it”…that’s a skill you learn either by practicing piano every day or cleaning the bugs out of the window screens every summer, one teensy hole at a time—with a toothbrush. So sometimes, powering through the activity to reach the goal (whether it’s a first draft of a paper, a chapter, an editing session, vocalizing, going out to exercise, etc.) is the necessary choice.
Other times, and it’s difficult for me to know what my creative soul needs, I need to wait until the internal material emerges for the words to flow or for the feeling to strike. Those magic moments of intuition are tough to come by, which can affect my relationship to my creativity and bring me down. Then I start to doubt and the downward spiral begins. Relying on intuition is tricky, indeed.
OR vise versa, if you’re not in the mood to do something but you do it anyway out of discipline and sheer will, often your heart will follow. This is cognitive therapy at its best and even positive thinking in action.
Truth be told, if I vocalize every day out of habit, then when my inspiration does strike, I’ll be in shape. Or if I exercise regularly, I’ll be able to handle the next exhausting jaunt across London (or if I were a dancer, be on point for the next audition, etc).
So powering through is hardly ever a bad idea. In the end, even if the inspiration does not make its way into the picture, my mental fortitude has become stronger.
When my internal overflows with emotion or explodes from a crisis, then my skill will be waiting for me to create and express … to produce. So my product is directly affected by my discipline and my discipline is part of my process.
Learning how product and process integrate the internal and the external is one very powerful component of interacting with creativity on an individual level.
It’s also the secret to allowing the human race to thrive, but that’s another blog and might end up surpassing the 1000 word count!
How can I tell when I should just be?
I ask myself if I really want to do the project. I ask myself if it feels like a hurdle, a roadblock, or a dead end. People always say you have to have faith in your work. This is what they mean. If I’ve lost my faith in my novel (or screenplay or musical masterpiece, my acting chops—what have you) then there will be no capacity to carry it to completion. It’s important to take inventory of my belief in my work.
I ask myself if I am being fair to my creativist soul. Am I contributing a good amount of my life force to my writing (art, dream, project) or am I mostly just distracted?
My writing teacher once told us not to worry when we felt stuck. “You are still writing even if the words don’t appear on the page,” were the exact words. This reminds me to allow the internal some sacred space, but I still must show up at the keyboard and flex the muscle of being a writer.
Distractions can be viewed as the price to pay. My voice therapist once told me, “In order for you to heal and come every week to therapy, something has to go.” This taught me that there is a price to pay. For the creativist, it might mean saying no to a coffee date or a clean kitchen or a larger paycheck from the day job.
Distractions can also be Creastination, which allows ideas to germinate and more ideas to be caught. I can’t collect ideas if I don’t intentionally bring myself to the fountain that is always flowing. That fountain may look different to each Creativist. The fountain may be the fullest when you’re super busy with other things and your brain is on overload. For me, I’ve learned I need wallow time—lots of space to feel my feelings and drop the other roles.
This is not meant to be a ‘how to’ but a mirror of a creativist journey—an exploration of the interchangeable nature of process and product; internal and external symbiosis; a relationship that is never static. Every single person on the planet has a relationship with creativity. Cultivating it and understanding it will help it thrive.